Some Patheos “Catholic” hatred was unleashed against Justice Scalia by blogger Artur Rosman last month:
In other words, Scalia’s nationalist god is an idol, not the Christian God.
You might say that in a pluralistic country like the United States we have no choice but to accept such watered-down idols in order to be free to worship the One True God. But such Migrations of the Holy, as the title of William T. Cavanaugh’s book I cite below calls them, have a price, a very steep price:
The deepest theological danger inherent in American exceptionalism, then, is that of the messiah nation that does not simply seek to follow God’s will, but acts as a kind of substitute god on the state of history. When the concept of chosenness becomes unmoored from the biblical narrative, the danger is that the nation will not only be substitute church but substitute god. When the shrine is emptied of the biblical God and replaced with the generic principle of transcendence, the danger is that we will not come to worship God but will worship our freedom to worship God. The empty shrine is surreptitiously filled. Our freedom itself becomes an idol, the one thing we will kill and die for.
Yes, what if, as some Americans like to say, “Freedom isn’t free?”